Review: THE OPENING ACT Takes a Straight Look at the Journey of a Stand-Up Comedian

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I was given the opportunity to watch the film The Opening Act, written and directed by comedian Steve Byrne. The film follows the journey of fledgling comedian Will, played by real-life comedian Jimmy O. Yang, as he decides to pursue his dreams of becoming a stand-up. He takes the opportunity to get on stage and meet new comedians that he can gather wisdom from, and learns the meaning of the job that he loves and hopes to be able to break into.

The film is chock-full of familiar comedy faces including Alex Moffat, Cedric The Entertainer, Neal Brennan, Debby Ryan, Ken Jeong, Bill Burr, Whitney Cummings, Jermaine Fowler, Russell Peters, Tom Segura, and Iliza Shlesinger, and the film was produced by Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley.

I am a huge fan of stand-up comedy. I go see it live, I watch the specials, I follow my favorite comedians in their careers, and have enjoyed Steve Byrne’s comedy and projects for years, so I was really excited to watch this movie. It was fun to see the ensemble and have the curtain pulled back on a profession I admire so much. The one thing that disappointed me about the film was the lack of comedy. I expected to laugh at and with these talented comedians, but was surprised when the film played so straight.

After watching the film, I watched an interview with Byrne where he explained that the film purposefully didn’t distract from the main character’s journey with anything else going on in his life. That helped me to understand why we didn’t see the spotlight on any other comedic characters, but I just hoped for some more funny moments with Yang’s character. The most memorable moment in the film was when Yang’s character took Cedric the Entertainer’s character to lunch to ask his advice, as he was a seasoned comedian in the movie. Cedric tells him that the gift of being able to make people laugh makes comedy the best job in the world. This line resonated with me and brought it all together. I ended up being happy with the film, because I love comedy and the people who make it, but I was surprised that the film about a comedian’s journey featured less comedy than I expected.

Check out my full interview with Steve Byrne on GeekTyrant today, as he talks a lot about being a comedian today and gives great advice for those starting out. Then check out The Opening Act in theaters, On Demand, and On Digital today.

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